FRO 2008: India is a nation of shopkeepers

By , agencyfaqs!, Mumbai | In Marketing | February 25, 2008
At Franchising and Retail Opportunities 2008, Hemchandra Javeri, CEO, home solutions, Future Group, discussed how with a proper blend of Indian and international sensibilities, India could be a very viable market for franchising

"Franchising & #BANNER1 & # is a marriage between the franchiser and the franchisee and must be treated like one," said Hemchandra Javeri, chief executive officer, home solutions, Future Group, speaking at the 9th edition of Franchise and Retail Opportunities, which was organised by Franchise India Holding.

Javeri discussed how retail is booming in India right now. Government policies and consumer acceptance are what will seed the boom further. Though franchising has been happening for a long time, it has gained considerable momentum now.

"Partnerships in retail will work only when the franchiser and franchisee share a vision for the brand and its image," said Javeri. He played out a four pillar chart to make retailer and franchiser bonds grow stronger. Among these pillars, he said, vision must be the strongest pillar, for, unless the franchiser and the franchisee are aligned on the goals they need to meet, the brand will not succeed. He pointed to the oft noted scenario of over-commitment. This hampers trust in the partnership and creates rifts, which is a deterrent to the brand. "Funds," Javeri said, "are not the primary resource, people are." Keeping an open mind and letting the partner who knows better do what they know better helps.

Hemchandra Javeri
Javeri spoke about how retail real estate needs correction. He gave the example of Jalandhar, where 24 malls have come up in recent times. He said he could not see how even three of those could survive. He warned franchisers and franchisees to learn about the brand and the market in which they intend to open the franchise. A common and generic module will not appeal to all consumers, he said. There are stark differences of opinion among consumers even in different states of India.

International partners, he said, have global learning and insights that are relevant across markets. They are used to a disciplined and systematic work plan, which is not always the case in India. "Franchisees must learn to work in that way and truly become the DNA of the partner," he said. Likewise, international partners, too, must respect their franchisee. If the brand remains arrogant and does not mould with the franchisee, it cannot succeed.

Javeri said an international solution would not help an international brand work well in India; what was needed was an Indian solution with an intrinsic Indian flavour. A proper study of the franchisee market needed to be made: what are the shopping habits, dos and don'ts. He said, "The Indian consumer is very discerning, especially the Indian woman. She will not spend an extra rupee unless she feels that the product will prove to be of worth."

"As Indians, we like being pampered and we like our shopping experience to be enhanced and made memorable," he added.

Javeri concluded by saying, "India is a nation of shopkeepers and we definitely have it in us to make franchising work."